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Parallel Port Light Control

:: EPE Chat Zone ­:: ­Radio Bygones Message Board :: » EPE Forum Archives 2007-2009 » Archive through 06 February, 2007 » Parallel Port Light Control « Previous Next »

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Clifweb
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Registered: 01-2007

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Posted on Tuesday, 30 January, 2007 - 12:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Scenario:
I have 6 lights that are 75W each if not mistaking. They are wired so they will be dimmed separably and a master dimmer to dim them all together. In Malta we use 230v and 50Hz.

I need to make this circuit switch each one on and off and be able to dim them using a PC. Can some one tell how to do this project.

I know how to program IC and know C# as a GUI programming language.
Thanks very much in advance for your help
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Grab
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Post Number: 389
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Posted on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 - 09:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

To interface to the parallel port, you need something that'll handle the Centronics protocol. This is actually dead simple - you just need an octal flip-flop (74xx373 IIRC). Look up http://www.beyondlogic.org for details. For the user interface, you should then be able to use the standard Windows printer commands.

The logic chips will have to be driven off 5V, so you'll need a 5V voltage regulator (most likely a 7805). Then either use a wall-wart AC-DC converter to feed the regulator, or make your own with a transformer (stepping down to maybe 8-9V), bridge rectifier and capacitors.

After that, you need some way of driving the lights. For that you need a triac. There should be plenty of circuits floating around on the web for how to do that.

If the triacs fail, there's a possibility of the PC getting 230V back through its parallel port, which isn't healthy. You might want to look at opto-isolators between the logic chips and the triacs. If you do this, don't forget that you'll need separate DC supplies for both sides of the opto-isolators too.

Graham.
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John_becker
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Post Number: 1068
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Posted on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 - 11:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Robert Penfold showed us how to use parallel ports in Interface a while back. His add-in software will be on our Downloads site, probably in the Interface folder, but also I use it a lot with my VB6 progs so it's likely to be in one of my folders. Try the Toolkit TK3 folder first. The software's called INOUT32, but it may be zipped with a .ZIP extension as there are several files for it.

Some PCs wont allow easy access to the parallel port without it.

J
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Grab
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Posted on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 - 05:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Although you could use Robert Penfold's system, it's a much better idea to design hardware that'll work with standard parallel port protocols, and use those standard parallel port protocols to do your communication with the hardware. That means you're not reliant on a particular Windows version or anything, and your code and hardware will work with *all* parallel ports. Robert Penfold's system will not work with USB-to-parallel converters, and there are apparently a few PCI parallel port cards which might have problems with it too (which I found out about from someone who was using my I/O-finding DLL).

Graham.
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Clifweb
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Posted on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 - 09:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I wish to have a good schematic to do this job. with some ideas what to do in the programing
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John_becker
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Posted on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 - 11:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Graham, At the time Robert wrote his original Interface on the subject, quite a lot of years ago, many people had no idea how to interface reliably. At that time many of us were still mourning the loss of "friendly" User Ports as PCs began to take hold.

We seldom get any queries now, Clifweb's being the first I've heard of for some years. Robert has updated the info several times as the DLL has itself been changed to meet different demands from new PC platforms.

Perhaps you'd like to fill us in with detail about how you think things should be done? It might even be worthwhile talking with me privately about maybe you doing some brief feature on it for us in EPE? Remember there are many PC platforms out there now.

Tell me your thoughts.

J
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Clifweb
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Posted on Thursday, 01 February, 2007 - 07:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Right now on this machine I have Windows XP but at some point I will install vista 64 bit edition.
Features: Dimming of the 6 lights separately with master control to dim them all together. That is the most important thing I need.
Maybe room to add more light if needed to be prepared if there will be the need to add more lights.
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Joe
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Posted on Friday, 02 February, 2007 - 08:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you are new to electronics, handling mains voltage is not a job for a beginner.

There are established methods for what you want to do. DMX protocol and hardware being one.

There are various kits and circuits on the internet that are baised around the DMX protocol and will do what you need.

Look for a start:
http://www.alia.com.au/links/dmx-faq.htm
Do one thing each day that scares you – work here !
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Grab
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Posted on Monday, 05 February, 2007 - 04:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That's the problem. RP (and many others, including a lot of chip programmer makers) made the understandable assumptions that (a) parallel ports would always exist as cards (or modules) within the PC occupying a certain I/O address space, and (b) that OSes would always allow us to access them through I/O-space accesses. That was the standard way of accessing ports at the time, and it had the advantage that all the I/O pins could be used for dedicated purposes, instead of just for whatever some protocol used them for.

Fast forward a few years, and that assumption no longer holds. Many PCs no longer have parallel ports, and quite a few (mine included) use USB-to-parallel port adaptors which don't have I/O-space addresses and so can't be controlled by the old-school methods. The result is that sticking to the protocols is now the only safe way to do it.

I wouldn't mind doing a quick article for you. I honestly have to say though, I don't know when I'd do it! :-/ We've just moved house, plus I'm trying to get more time in with my band, and get out to run PA for other people as well, all being well. I haven't really done much serious electronics for a while now.

Still, I'll see if I can get some experimentation in at some point. As you say though, it depends on whether it's needed. Now that you've got chips which interface directly to USB, there really isn't as much demand for parallel ports.

Graham.
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Grab
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Posted on Monday, 05 February, 2007 - 04:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Oh, Clifweb - do *NOT* install Vista any time soon. WinXP has finally got to the point where there aren't too many bugs in it. The standard wisdom with anything by Microsoft is that you don't buy it until at least 2 years after it's come out, so that they have a chance to fix the worst of the bugs.

Also consider whether you need Vista on a PC that'll be on all the time (as I presume this one will be, to control the lights). WinXP will run on a P200, if you don't ask it to do too much, and it needs almost nothing in the way of graphics card. Vista though *requires* a modern graphics card (ie. less than a year old) and a fairly powerful machine. The difference amounts to something like 2-3 times the power consumption for a Vista machine, which is a fair chunk of money if it's left on all day.

Graham.
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John_becker
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Posted on Monday, 05 February, 2007 - 07:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OK Graham, contact me privately if/when you get a chance and we chat about it. You hopefully still have my address as I have yours.

J

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